He'd been oblivious the first time; too intrigued by the treetop playground to notice a lot of anything. Much less the budding romance between Katara and Jet. She'd stayed up all night, sewing together a misshapen hat for the boy, pricking her fingers multiply times in the process. Aang had kept her company, wincing each and every time she'd stiffen and another droplet of blood would pool up on her fingertip. Still, he conceived the gesture as nothing more than a friend making a heartfelt gift for another friend.
It nearly sickens him how gullible he was.
The second time, he's more cautious. He allows himself to trust Jet, to a degree; being naturally compassionate and seeing the best in people, as always. But when Sokka suggests Katara kiss him to retrieve his memory, Aang's off-hand comment is unusually bitter and jaded. However, no one questions it.
When Jet is laying there on the cement; his two comrades and friends huddled over him, Aang knows it's the end. Before Toph even finalizes it, and Katara silently cries, he knows. His hands clench into fists, and he blames himself for letting another person, -even one as misguided as Jet- die on his watch. People fall everyday, because he's not doing his job as the Avatar properly. It burdens his soul, and reminds him Sozin's comet is fast approaching.
Once the war is over Aang feels like he can finally breathe. He's done it; he's won! The world can find peace, as can his aching spirit. It's such a relief, he feels like he might collapse with joy.
He and Katara kiss; not in a daydream, or in a silent attempt at saying goodbye, should something happen. It's understood by both; it signals the start of their own relationship, which is now free to flourish. And it does.
Until the night of their honeymoon.
The ceremony is large. All their friends, allies, family members, and even acquaintances are gathered at the royal palace, where Zuko insisted the wedding be held. There are bouquets of Panda Lilies, -Aang insists on them, in honor of the time he'd searched the volcano for one to give to Katara- Toph is reluctantly wearing a dress as Katara's maid-of-honor, -she rips it off the second Katara allows it- and Sokka stands with teary eyes in his dark robes as Aang's best man. It's the greatest day of his life, and he knows Katara feels the same way; touching her mother's betrothal necklace often, with a beaming smile. Later, she'd had it turned into a bracelet, to make way for the necklace Aang had proposed to her with, but so she was able to continue keeping her mother close.
The honeymoon is overly romantic. Zuko had spared no expensive; renting them their own private island, -which he'd gotten for no charge, considering he was the Firelord, after all- with all the accommodations the two could ever ask for. A large cottage by the water; a perfect view of the stars, and total privacy.
They don't make it to the beach-side house.
It hadn't hit him until they were laying in the sand; the full moon seeming to send it's own well-wishes to the newly weds. They had done the deed; it had been perfect, and flawless.
Too flawless, almost.
While, as a monk, he was kept in the dark about the deeper aspects of intercourse, Aang had been told girls were supposed to have some kind of purity barrier, were they not? Their maidenhood.
He hadn't felt the breaking of a wall, or seen her tense up. She'd been perfectly at ease; head thrown back and moans spilling out of her mouth like music to his ears.
The ocean waves lapped at his feet, as if in an attempt to offer solace to the sudden burning in the back of his throat.
There had been no wall, because it had already been taken down.
His hands curled in the sand, turning his head to stare at the tan goddess behind him, asleep and stretched out on his clothing. The picture of beauty.
All it did was make the tears come that much sooner.
He'd been oblivious, while Jet had stripped away her childhood, right under his nose.
It was called a crush because sometimes, that's what you ended up. Crushed.
And that's what he was.